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Westside Watch

Guerrilla Sculptor Takes Mystery to New Heights

March 31, 1994

Santa Monica may have its own version of the Watts Towers.

About three weeks ago, three 20-foot wooden totems were mysteriously planted in a vacant lot near the corner of 17th Street and Colorado Avenue. Carved with intricate figurines and designs, they stand within a few feet of each other and look like ancient artifacts, looming conspicuously in an area often used to dump trash.

"It's something different," said Henry Casio, a worker at a nearby glass company. "I've noticed a lot of people stopping and taking pictures."

The culprit of all this creativity is a 24-year-old guerrilla artist from Kentucky. His pseudonym: John Arthur.

"I've always been fascinated by mysterious ancient art structures such as Stonehenge, the Easter Island faces and the pyramids," said Arthur. "All those structures are timeless and there's no clue who put them there."

Arthur has certainly caught the attention of the neighborhood. Residents, who refer to him as the "mystery sculptor," wonder where he will strike next.

"I like the mystery and tradition of creating unsigned art work," he said. "And I do have plans for more."

*

CEREAL? THEY'LL PASS: Thud. There it was, the Sunday Times, wrapped in plastic, together with a special treat--two sample boxes of cereal.

But on this, the first day of the weeklong festival of Passover, the package posed a problem for tradition-minded Westside Jews who had painstakingly followed the Biblical requirement to rid their homes of all bread and grain products.

"People had all sorts of ideas about what to do," said Rabbi Yitzhok Adlerstein, a faculty member at the Yeshiva of Los Angeles, a high school and adult education institute in the Pico-Robertson district.

"Some said to save up the boxes and dump them on the city editor's desk in protest. Some said to burn the boxes, others said to burn the newspaper together with the boxes."

Another rabbi, unhappy with coverage of events in the Middle East, said the paper deserves to be burned even without the cereal.

In the end, Adlerstein said, the consensus was to cover the boxes from sight, leave them on the porch or the front lawn until the first two days of the festival were over, then burn them or flush the contents down the toilet.

"The reaction I liked best, because it was mine, was that the Times should make sure that next weekend everybody gets two boxes of (rabbinically approved) Passover cereal," he said.

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